|Obama adviser: White males need not apply|
Robert Reich tells House panel stimulus package should emphasize 'social return' over worker skill
January 22, 2009
A top economic adviser to President Obama has told a congressional panel the billions of dollars in the proposed economic stimulus plan should be allocated with social issues in mind, to make sure the money doesn't go to just "white male construction workers" or the highly skilled.
Robert Reich, who served as labor secretary under President Clinton, was speaking to the House Steering and Policy Committee Jan. 7 about funding infrastructure projects across the nation.
"It seems to me that infrastructure spending is a very important and good way of stimulating the economy. The challenge will be to do it quickly, to find projects that can be done that will have a high social return, that also can be done with the greatest speed possible," Reich said.
"I am concerned, as I'm sure many of you are, that these jobs not simply go to high skilled people who are already professionals or to white male construction workers," he said.
The hearing took place two weeks before Obama was inaugurated.
"I have nothing against white male construction workers," Reich said. "I'm just saying there are a lot of other people who have needs as well.
"There are ways in which the money can be, criteria can be set so the money does go to others, the long term unemployed, minorities, women," he said.
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., appeared to agree, suggesting federal money be directed to specific groups of people.
The federal government, he said, must "remove the discretion" about where the funds go, or what projects would be involved, even to the point of eliminating any input from governors or state legislatures.
Reich agreed: "Governors ought to be, should be given a choice of signing on the bottom line or not."
Then Rangel noted the "middle class" would be unlikely to create any opposition to funds directed to minorities.
"One thing that you can depend on, you don't have to be worried about what the middle class is going to do. Things are so bad, they have to put food on their tables, get clothes for their kids, get them in school," he said.
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Commentator Michelle Malkin said Reich's statements expose "the lie that the Obama administration is actually interested in revitalizing basic infrastructure for the good of the economy."
"No, what Team Obama really wants is to ensure that the least skilled, least qualified workers get jobs based on their chromosomes and pigment," she said.
Malkin cited Reich's own blog, where the Obama adviser wrote of the economic stimulus plan: "I'd suggest that all contracts entered into with stimulus funds require contractors to provide at least 20 percent of jobs to the long-term unemployed and to people with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level."
This, Malkin wrote, is "spoken like a true-blue wealth redistributor. The 'needs' (read: demands) of politically protected minorities trump the need for competently build roads and bridges."
On his blog, Reich makes his case for, "The Stimulus: How to Create Jobs Without Them All Going to Skilled Professionals and White Male Construction Workers."
"At least 2 percent of project funds should be allocated to such training. In addition, advantage should be taken of buildings trades apprenticeships -- which must be fully available to women and minorities," he wrote.
Race already has become an issue several times in the Obama administration.
As WND reported, Democratic Party strategist Donna Brazile admitted she swiped Obama's complimentary blanket from his inauguration ceremony and then joked it was not a criminal offense because, "We have a black president ... this was free."
Outrage also erupted over the inauguration benediction by Rev. Joseph Lowery, the 87-year-old civil rights pioneer, for asking God to help mankind work for a day when "white would embrace what is right."
Obama reacted to the benediction with a smile.